tv Book Discussion on Imbeciles CSPAN March 20, 2016 7:30am-8:31am EDT
>> right after september 11th when the spotlight turned on afghanistan, american women, including myself saw women who are marginalized, who were left out. the very idea of a government that would forbid half of its population from being educated was shocking to americans -- american men and women. a lot of people started calling me to say i want to do something, what can i do to help? one of my best friends called and said they used to be so glad it wasn't in your shoes. but now i wish i were her. i'm jealous because you can do something and i can't.
so right then reaffirm the u.s. afghan women's council in many american women filed various projects to support our sisters in guinness and and i was really the beginning of my interest in afghanistan and the women there. >> and i'm pleased to introduce the next speaker. adam: is "the new york times" best selling author in a lecture at yale law school. he firmly served as a member of any times editorial board and was a senior writer for "time" magazine where he also has a weekly law. before entering journalism, he was a reformed lawyer and staff attorney for the american civil liberties union. a graduate of harvard law school, president of the harvard law review in previous books include nothing to fear from a fierce inner circle in the 100 days that created modern
america. his latest book on the closest supreme court decision to allow virginia to sterilize the young woman for eugenic reasons that the new republic cause in the cells and important new book that takes us back to a really remembered era of history or maybe ms. adolf hitler regarded american eugenic laws and inspiration. cohen's narrative of the the case that it shines these practices is a page turner and the story itself is deeply him as physically infuriating. we are pleased to bring the conversation to harvard bookstore tonight. please join me in welcoming adam cohen. [applause] >> thank you. thank you very much. it's a pleasure to be here. i would like to thank harvard took store for hosting, a wonderful book stories to spend a lot of time and when i was here in a previous life. thank you for turning out including some old friends here. i had a book party in new york
recently and the invitation that went out automatically set the "imbeciles" book party. some of my friends at acted about what it would be if they attended. this is also built as a "imbeciles" book touts. i want to thank you to come in and not even afraid. this filter mail at the homecoming between my freshman dorm which is a few hundred feet that way and we spent a lot of a lot of time and it feels great to be back. in 1927, the supreme court was asked to decide a simple question. should virginia be about to sterilize carrie buck, a 20-year-old inmate at the state colony for epileptics and people minded. written by justice oliver wendell holmes in the court ruled no part of the constitution, not equal protection, not to process protect the carrie buck from being sterilized against her
will. the court did even why. it also strongly endorsed the eugenics movement and issued a call tothe nation to sterilize more unfit people. justice holmes they wrote that those who stopped the strength of the state to prevent their being swamped with incompetence. and worst that could have been torn from the pages of the pamphlet, it is better for all the world if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or let them starve, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. homes are not to include in the decision was the most brutal aphorisms in american jurisprudence. homes from the harvard educated symbol of boston's finest families said of kerry but come her mother and young daughter three generations of imbeciles are enough. i'm legal scholars rank the supreme court's worst decisions, the competition is considerable. the dred scott case in which the court had no right to his due
for the freedom. plessy versus ferguson which upheld louisiana saw segregated row boat cars. the court upheld the internment of japanese-americans during world war ii. there always be differences of opinions about which one should be in a list of the worst decisions and how they should be ranked but they can be no doubt do much other prominent place place. and its aftermath aldus carryback sterilized against her will but in the end 70,000 americans were sterilize. many victims were like kerry, perfectly normal both mentally and physically and desperately wanted to have children. it extends the young united states. the party and the rise in germany used america as a model for its own eugenics sterilization program. the supreme court's ruling influence the genetic health course which orders than 375,000 eugenic sterilizations. in fact, the number of trials,
not the users possible for sterilizations cited book versus though their defense. while many cores for his decisions are essential parts of american history, buck v. val is not well. even in law school courses it's really discussed only in passing. the living american constitutional of 1700 pages to does have a sentence in a footnote to the case. i'd like to talk a little bit about buck v. bell, case of bell, k. sub are more interested bell, case of the more interesting than whether divided and a two-out or a few thoughts about my remains important and then click to open it up and get a conversation going. the united states in the 19 tries was caught up in a mania tuesday discovered hereditary science to protect humanity. modern eugenics among followers of charles darwin crossed the atlantic and became a full-fledged intellectual case. the united states have a new enemy and those who carried them.
they weren't threatened to bring down not only the nation but the whole human race. america thinks it is some of the church to save humanity. john deborah ellis junior, alexander graham bell and theodore roosevelt attempted the pages of the magazine to insist the unfit must be forbidden to leave us from behind. prominent scientists find organizations with names like the committee to study and report on the best practical means of cutting off supplies some of the american population. in big cities and small towns, eugenics was the intellectual issue of the day. bonus clubs invited lectures to speak on the subject of arranging marriages could question and competed in national serving contest organized on top of religion and eugenics. this is church of any responsibility for improving the human stock. best-selling books and magazines explain the concept to an eager public. inspiring the wonderful message
of the new provided the cosmopolitan explained that offer the promise of preventing one thing throughout the birth of the deceased are crippled or depraved. conferences are held. the american museum of national history hosted the second international conference, a truly terrible gathering and the state department sent out the invitations. universities are quick to embrace and give intellectual eugenics totted over 300 universities and colleges including right here at harvard, columbia or clean cornell. the driving force behind the movement of the 1920s was historians suggest the collective fears that the anglo-saxon upper and middle classes of change in america. her kerfuffle is transforming the nation's ethnic and religious makeup and it is industrial nation, community ties were framed. this anxiety is to redirect them express than the form of fears about the unfit. they offer two solutions.
one for the threat from without and one for the danger from within. the answer to the foreign purpose of immigration laws to limit the number of italians, and other non-working europeans in the country. the eugenicist claimed the screws had high levels of physical and mental hereditary defects and would be in america's gene pool. among other things based on intelligence testing between 40% and 50% of jewish immigrants in ellis island were mentally defect is. power sought hearings in which eugenicist expect various nationalities biological deficiencies acting on this argument congress adopted the immigration act of 1920 for which indicted were immigrants from north america and close the door to southern and eastern europeans. the harm is immense. most of all to the of eastern europe who of eastern europe who is simply trying to flee the genocidal regime and would find the door shut. we now know in the 1940s otto
frank were repeatedly and desperately for visas for his wife and daughters, margot in and was turned down because of the 1920 for a period when we think about and frank thomas to shoot at in the concentration camp, but she also died because u.s. congress believe the same thing. in addition to immigration, to deal with the external threat, genesis were to address the internal threat through a series of laws designed to prevent the unfit reproducing. they began to connecticut in 1895 with laws prohibiting various kinds of people in the hereditary elite unworthy area. you genesis were the unfit would then just reproduce out of wedlock. next they promoted segregation, placing the effect of people in state institutions during their reproductive years to prevent them from passing their foster a new generation, but holding a common many people in institutions for so long was expensive. finally turned to sterilization and could be carried out on a
mass scale. starting with indiana in 1907, state adopted legislation authorizing more sterilization of people judged to have hereditary defects. sterilizing anyone with effective truth. their greatest target uri. on the mentally challenged social workers. it is a bit tired of people rose global, a leading psychologist and influential study arguing people my goodness underlies all of our social problems including crime, poverty and prostitution. eugenics sterilization insisted to remove the worthless one half of the nation, 50 million people have to go under the knife.
virginia was late to adopt the sterilization. it waited until 1924, 17 years after indiana would put it in the center of the legal battle in a virginia hospital decided they didn't want to sterilize anyone until their love is tested in the courts all the way to the supreme court to accomplish this they decided to create a test case. it was carrie buck's new fortune to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. kerry's story is a sad one in infuriating one. she was raised in poverty by single mother and was taken in by a foster family who had nothing but whether physically or mentally she was by a nephew of her foster mother when she became pregnant out of wedlock from within the header declared apple at and evil minded and shipped her off. she arrived when the colony superintendent was looking for an inmate to put at the center of this test case. just the personal attributes they were looking for appreciate than evil minded and as a woman
who had given birth out of wedlock is out of wedlock and 17 embodied the nightmare of evil minded people reproducing rapidly and flooding the nation with so-called perfect fit. carrie out her mother was also a colony designated evil minded and other relatives in the institution could help the state establish a predatory pattern. there's more to carrie story but no one was interested in hearing it. she was not implemented despite the unreliable intelligence testing. her school record with the colony was not interested in are filtered to be a perfectly normal intelligence and she was not epileptic. she never had a seizure never would. the colony her day. and ruled that it should be an no-space order appeal through the virginia courts all the way up to the u.s. supreme court. the shoes were uncivil society, public and private and tuitions devoted to higher values to promote truth and justice and keep them on a great pass.
for the nation's most respected professions were involved in the case. medicine, academia, blah and judiciary. each of them is on the wrong side. dr. albert pretty was the man his leg to carrie to be the first person operated on under virginia's law. he was a physician who served as superintendent for epileptics. he'd also been one of the main people who lobbied the legislature to pass the sterilization law. in this campaign, he had much of the medical profession behind him. across the country.as took a leading role and promoting eugenics and sterilization. medical charts are filled with articles advocating their location with titles like raise the suicide for social parasites. harry laughlin, the head of the office in long island, new york was assigned expert opinion at the virginia law to be upheld in kerry should be sterilized. one of the most prominent advocates for sterilization drafted a model law to drop
their own laws. doc renuart a doctorate from the nevada professor was also to a great extent representative of this academic peers. but if the nation's most prominent scientists are only supported eugenics eugenics sterilization. the center of the academic support and sorry to report was right here at harvard university. president charles william eliot addressed a meeting of the harvard san francisco advocating for racial purity. he wrote an article and served as vice president of the first international eugenics conference in london in 1912. to begin harvard geneticists were among the nation's most influential scientific advocates. thirdly, a lawyer who drafted the virginia sterilization law and went on to defend in the courts all the way up to the united supreme court. lawyers also offered strong support for eugenics. among the influential voices praising connecticut in the
nation law was the president of the american bar association who declared eugenic marriage laws necessary to protect future generations from the evil operation. finally, the great oliver wendell holmes who had the last word on kerry's faith and do at this broadside against societies and missiles by two pristine sterilization costs. holmes is standing. holmes is standing in his lifetime internment but he would later say upon in virginia sterilization law had given him a real pleasure. of all the professions a message to share his ruled that there was the most disappointing. it is worth noting the supreme court has some of the leading lights of american law that chief justice was william howard taft to derrida served as president and included louis brandeis, the great progressive known to the people's attorney before before joining the court and of course there was holmes, former harvard law professor in the most respected and supreme court is to read.
when the case reach these men they got the facts wrong, because analysis they applied were shoddy of the vote was not close. those who airbrushed the history likely offers simple explanation that it is an anomaly. the supreme court they would say was briefly caught up in eugenics, but it was short-lived, but a short-lived one-time mistake in the issues are praised as either nations to undergo put behind it. the argument has serious flaws. unlike so many court, bugsy bell has never been overruled. and in 1942 case the court struck down an oklahoma law providing for sterilization of certain criminals and did so in very narrow grounds. the court expressly shows not to overturn or even limit and after the ruling state continued to sterilize thousands of people. as recently as 2001 the u.s. supreme court of appeals in missouri one step below the supreme court cited buckley bell
of a mildly woman ordered by the state to be sterilized or second there is nothing about the subject matter. the board of eugenics was still functioning in a performed last sterilization in 1981. in 2014 come investigate reporters suggested 150 developers in the southern sterilize between 2006 and 2010. other examples -- with disturbing regularity. more broadly, the 21st century is being held in the century of biology and will be defined by a new biology couldn't address the deeper understanding of the genetic humans. scientists now able to edit human embryos but that the press has dubbed designer babies. to sum babies. for some make it far easier for the state to impose eugenics if he chooses. a final reason to be bell remains important is that the subject is a timeless one.
power and how mossad that using it against those who do not. kerry was at the bottom of the nation's economic and social hierarchies. in hierarchies. in her plea to the core she asked for protection from powerful people and institutions a threat to do her harm. throughout the history of american law that has not been a good position to be in. dakota, robbie, french archaeologists uncovered in 1902 include 282 distinct laws covering such modern doctrines as liability for negligent acts and presumption. the code had an eloquent purpose to bring about the rule of righteousness of the land so that the strong should not harm the week. the simple edge of remains more than 3500 years later the laws highest calling the division the american legal system has lots of often fail to live up to. dred scott, homer plessy, fred cora matsuo, all weaker parties unjustly harmed by stronger ones
who can pick a supreme court justice in each case the court sided with the strong. in fact, american malls tend to favor the powerful could be said to be one of its defining features. in the end, the most troubling thing presented the corporate stark choice between homer robbie's ideal and precise opposite. the interim principal justice teaches the purpose of law is to ensure the strong do not harm the week. the genesis of the state of virginia insisted the strong must turn the week and it was the laws duty to help. faced with this decision, supreme court did not merely side with the strong. and enthusiastically urged him on, and twisted it be better for all the world and society strongest numbers to simply finish off people like carrie once and for all. featured babylonians understood helping the strong obliterate the week is the opposite of justice. [applause] so if you would like to take
questions, comments. >> well, listening to this is really quite interesting. unfortunately for me and made me feel uncomfortable because i've been an obstetrician for 40 years and i've done abortions and one of the main reasons we have done abortions was to eradicate trice almost 21 montoya did some. and it sounds as if we applied the principle of the week shouldn't be hurt by the strong. i feel uncomfortable about what i might have done. >> i think it's a very interesting point. obviously, there's a lot of nuance here. you could say one level of eugenics that is certainly very disturbing is the kind that carry back experience for the
state and posted on her essay potential. the state made the decision that she could not produce. that is invasive at a high level. sounds like you are talking about a different case for the parent has made the decision. >> is a very common name. eugenics and termination of pregnancy is practiced all the time. >> with consent of the parent. >> with the consent of the parent, but not of the fetus. >> i'm distinguishing between those two cases. it puts us in an area of eugenics that people may not grow comfortable with. i wonder if other people have thoughts about it. yeah. >> there have been a number of different journalists recently talking about the rights of american authoritarianism. i am just wondering how you kind of viewed this conversation within the current movement of
donald trump in the direction towards basically people feeling socially threatened as far as the morris of our society and the movement in that area and how that makes them react in a very protectionist in the overbearingly authoritarian way towards those not in power. >> that's a great point. we could draw a lot of parallels. it is a time of great transition. also a time of high levels of immigration. the genesis were very scared of the new immigrants who often were of a different religion about different. a lot of the people who are most active in the movement with a middle-class, upper-class, white protestants who felt that their world was cooking away from them. you are right that you can see eugenics as see eugenics is a form of authoritarianism. another parallel i didn't know when to put in the book i talk
about oliver wendell holmes and the degree to which he had a very )-right-paren upbringing in judicial philosophy. he was a member of the boston brahmin class here. in fact, his father dr. oliver wendell holmes senior dean of harvard medical school coined the phrase. if you think about it, there was very intentionally seen the quote old and how your families of boston were casted their own. like in india and was underhandedly send comment they were thought to be endowed by god. so that was the way in which holmes was brought up. he was brought up to think his people and that all doors and windows in homes for the first relative or attended harvard in the 1600s. he was raised to believe that these people were better and that he was at the top of the hierarchy. when kerry but goes to the
supreme court in schuster and the lowest social class, the lowest way social class, poor white come is sometimes called trash, but obviously that's not an acceptable way to refer. but the low social economic class of white when holmes looks at bat, he sees the very bottom of the hierarchy and thinks it should be obliterated. it's another form of authoritarianism. all about power and control. we see more than people are threatened and there's a reason the 1920s speaks to 2016. >> haven't some states like carolina done reparations? >> absolutely. us have been repealed and there have been reparations. the supreme court hasn't said that this whole thing which says the state has the power to sterilize people for eugenic reasons and that doesn't present
constitutional problems as long as there is a due process hearing in the state has a legitimate reason to do it. that authority so they are. who knows what direction our country is going into with the next president to next congress. if we get to a point in a few years for congress or the states begin to think about eugenics, the default law from the supreme court is still buck versus bell. the bed is the concern. >> at the time of the offense with eugenics and eugenicists. the supreme court makes ruling today as we know with citizens united another once, there's a lot of reaction from the population and the press. was there any reaction to oliver wendell holmes? >> your right to see eugenics permeate the culture.
essentially outrageous as the president of our university of the same is a good thing. theodore roosevelt was saying it was a good thing in the press is in the camp as well. it is interesting to read articles in the "new york times" before 1927. happy reports about eugenic activities in this great group has risen up in this kind of people on who to marry. the press coverage was very positive reading up and then the reaction was largely positive. there were some editorials and articles ever skeptical. overwhelmingly positive. the one group that was supposed to eugenics all the way through as the catholic church. they are really in many ways the heroes of the story. when legislators met to consider sterilization laws, progressives would be very troubled to be less assertive people to lobby for for the league of women voters, a very big supporter of
people that opposed it were priests and nuns and people active in the catholic church. a couple reasons. one is concerned about reproduction and many catholics oppose abortion, they were concerned about that, but also the catholic view is people should be evaluated on their soul in all matters very. the catholic church wasn't comfortable with this eugenics movement is that we will look at these individual traits and decide whether people are fit or not sick, worthy or not worthy. it was the catholic publications that also spoke out against the ruling when it came down. so i think we have to credit the role of the church their high-speed right on something when the rest of the country was wrong. >> there is also the comments of the question about the church. as far as eugenics could be in
terms of what happened in terms of the catholic church -- [inaudible] but could also let god grant that some of the fathers at the eugenics movement that elected the ninth dates back to germany and the united states again and look at what happened to puerto rican women forced to rely on immigration. the recent case, across the camp in miami were a man couldn't reproduce it goes on to have a child to get citizenship. my question is in terms of the society has a form of technology and the political economy of
put a strong wall between black and white races. the eugenicists, they were so racist that they've given up on the black race. they did not think it was worth trying to uplift the black race. so at that time the eugenics movement was about lifting up the white race and making sure the black race did not intermingle with it. it was a level that was so extreme it were not even focusing on sterilizing black people because they thought there was no point. it was people like carrie buck from the lower echelon they really troubled about because they wanted to lift up the white race and they saw her class as the way people were bringing it down. >> i think the impression -- i think to understand on what basis did evangelicals at the
time to single out certain groups of? for example, jewish people or italian immigrants, people from southern european countries. with the data they were looking at, patterns, behavior, i think just trying to understand. >> a great question. i think there's a bit of a chicken and egg thing that a lot of eugenics did not like the script and created data to show they were in figure. there was a visceral, just hatred of jews and italians, asians. there was a guy named madison grant who is a popular writer at the time. he wrote a book called the passing of a great race which anticipated a lot of nazi ideas about arianism. the way madison grant who was an upper-class new yorker who went to columbia law school and was on the board of the museum of natural history, the way he spoke about the polish jews walking down the street in new york into polish jewish clothing and they were trying to marry
american women. there was so much hatred that i think they created data to show these groups were in further. that was the racial thing but it's interesting how the chosen the individual groups of regular old stock americans who should be sterilized. there were categories, the disabled, the death, upon. there was a guy harry laughlin around the eugenics record office who took up a lot of the categories, a model statute that many states use to drop own laws. one interesting aspect of this is he a clear on his list the people who should not be allowed to reproduce because they were unworthy, epileptics. it turned to harry laughlin was epileptic. it's unclear exactly when he knew that it was epileptic. he and his wife never had children, but reading that one does wonder so much hatred
starts with self-hatred come was he so driven in part because he felt he was unworthy? and even when he had his first seizures and i don't knew he was epileptic at a certain point, his wife wouldn't let him drive anymore. he never argued to remove epileptics from the list. there's a lot of mixed up in this bag. >> did darwin have any role in any of this? >> yes. so the man who coined the term from the two greek words, was a half dozen of darwin. he was really thinking in the moment right after darwin was coming up with his theories of evolution. he talked about how we can see how nature works itself out through survival of the fittest and that natural process but he argued that what is have kevin rudd about, eugenicists would
speed up and do more humanely rather than fight over the years and years, to the right choosing and sort of design the fittest would survive. but darwin himself was not a eugenicist, and he wrote some actual rather ocwen passageway said that we could choose the people who we think are the weakest and most unworthy to live, but if we did that and we obliterated in we would also be open and running our own humanity. it's interesting darwin was brave enough that he understood this is not how his ideas should be used. >> i wonder if you can try to predict the future a little bit in terms of genetics. if you have any sense of what laws might the best and also the
coming together of possibly strange bedfellows in terms of like liberal disability rights activists and then conservatives who may be antiabortion in all cases. so if you can talk about the a little bit. >> it's a great question and there's so many aspects to it i will not be able to do it justice, but one thing people are focusing on right now is the news emerged quite recently that in china they have succeeded in editing a human embryo. so that is the first creation of what they call designer babies when they can go in and actually edit out some of the genes can rearrange them and create a baby that is mentioned in the design. those changes will be carried on to future generations. so there's a big, big discussion international about whether this should be allowed to a lot of people are saying dr. frankenstein, and these are changes that will forever change humanity. but this is going happened in england they just approved a researcher there to do editing
of a human embryo. so then we have t the question w do we feel about this? does this feel like carrie buck? it's interesting, when there was a hearing recently in washington about what to do ethically about editing human genomes, one of the people who testified was a mother whose baby had died at the age of six days from a genetically carried disease, and she was weeping and she said just three can do it. allow it. if she had been able to edit out the genes from her baby, her baby would've lived. in this discussion you now see that some people who are most in favor of allowing a human embryos to be edited or people who themselves carry these genetic markers. there's a scientist in washington whose mother contracted a terrible genetic disease, and he may have that
same disease. he would like to show not to have it so he's saying we should allow the. so it becomes an interesting twist what is the quote week, the people who are genetically unfit who are saying let us use this summer eugenic procedure to make ourselves stronger, make the next generation stronger. i actually think in many ways we may want to flip some of our thinking about eugenics and see that when they can start editing things may be it will be a way to help the week rather than to all precedent. that's one of many issues that will be out there. >> where are these colonies you were talking about? >> the one thing virginia which is outside lynchburg, virginia. they believed back then inputting epileptics and feeble minded people out in the country because they thought working in the field and getting fresh and would help them to be true. although no one was ever care.
these colonies system, there were other colonies throughout the country. it was one of these waves of reform, thought to be a good thing. people like carrie buck and her mother were sent therefore possibly for life. carrie buck they let her leave the colony after she was sterilized because of the things you wish was no longer a threat to humanity. she wasn't going to reproduce. her mother lived her whole life in this colony, and so these were said places where people were trapped. they called impatiens but they were inmates. >> i know we have heard about prisons where they tested medication on people and the inmates were not aware that this was being done and wasn't their consent. how much of a voice did she have any proceedings? way she completely informed of what was going on, and did she have a lawyer who was able to argue in her behalf? i mean speed the whole thing is
so sad. it's interesting, a reporter in virginia asked me today if you could talk to carrie what would you ask her. i said i wish i knew at every stage in the process what she knew. we know that after sterilization hearing those held at the colony she was represented by a guardian because the law requires that we don't know what she knew. "the guardian" wasn't as much to protect a. she was very quickly order to be sterilized. there's one poignant line in this transcript, you can read the transcript, a lawyer who is trying to sterilize her turned to read the answers to ship anything to say. and she says that she trusts her people. not clear who the people are. is for people "the guardian" who is working for the people who tried to sterilize records when they go farther in the court system, "the guardian" gets hurt or because that's required under the statute. the lord they get had been chairman of the board of the colony. he was friends with the words on the other side anyone her sterilize. he wrote some terrible briefs
which they are much shorter than the breeze from the other side. they leave out a lot of important cases. even realized this last page and have, really that's the only reason she should be sterilized. this is what she had. i think at some point she did realize what was going to happen. the more tragic stories, her sister who was her younger sister also in the code for epileptics and feeble minded come after carrie buck a sterilized after the 19th was the ruling, she sterilized right after. she's not told. they tell her she's having an appendectomy or something like that. many years later when carrie buck and her sister are located by the then head of the colony many, many years later in the '70s who's a good guy, doesn't -- should first find out what was done to her, and she and her husband were told the news begin
weeping and they say we spent our whole lives trying to get pregnant. we go to the doctor and they mention, the doctor mentioned that doris had a score. she thought was an appendectomy. she learned as an old woman would've been done to her. this was not uncommon but, unfortunately, because we don't have oral histories and drove we don't know who found that when. many, many women were never told, and maybe died not knowing what was done to them. it's very sad. >> the culture of medicine, until relatively recently, was that doctors or patients what to do and patients complied with the doctor's orders. so when it informed consent become something in the practice of medicine that the patients were supposed to understand what was being done to them? >> it was just starting around this era while it was working its way through the system. there was a case in new york
state where the court of appeals ruled strongly that patients had a right to be informed and that operating on them without getting their consent was almost a form of assault the images beginning to happen. there was a little concerned about that. they were worried it that doctor again to spread more widely to be in a position. it was after then it became much more common. if that had been a robust doctrine at the time, certainly it was being plowed right and left by the eugenics, by eugenics sterilization. >> -- [inaudible] >> failures? >> yes, failures. a significant percentage we did it without large a population he will have failures. >> i have not heard any examples of that. i'm sure it was going on. you know, they all kind of nefarious ways to do with
everything. what happened to carrie's baby. carrie is pregnant when she is ordered to be sent to the called for epileptics and feeble minded. her foster, just want her to go. the doctor says we don't accept any credit when we don't accept any children. they put it in with some other family until she gives birth and in this question about what to do with her baby. they decide to give it to the foster family raised her baby as their own and then they don't let carrie buck come back and join them later. i think babies were being passed around and all kinds of things were worked out. but i'm sure it was all done, a terrible way for the individuals involved. >> so the vote was 8-1. what was the decent? >> there was no dissent, but the one justice who voted against was the one catholic on the
court. and the most conservative member of the court. some catholic law journals have written about the silence of the dissent, what would he have said? and it's hard to know. user a cranky, sometimes he just objected to government activities after his kind. there were a lot of cases we didn't just like the government messing with peoples lives. he was also a very religious catholic. about was he probably objected on moral grounds, but just didn't say. we really wonder what all these justices were thinking. to be one of the questions was what was louis brandeis thinking? he was known as a people's attorney when he practiced law right around you. he was the great champion of the dispossessed and teachers of science on. early on in this process i was excited to learn a law professor just written a 900 page biography of louis brandeis and
ordered it because the ordered it because the one to see what someone who would look at his entire life said, and once again we see the thing. it was mentioned in a footnote in that book. there was so much about his international zionism, his childhood and all that. at a footnote of gore saying he was majority in buckley versus bill. sometimes he just voted with the majority to kind of the configure. the chief justice at the time was very big on building, you like to have unanimity or go straight unanimity. brandeis just left -- let pat twist his arm. no one has explained that. so their are a lot of silence as in this case it's maybe will never be filled in. was there a question back there?
did you have a question? >> i was just wondering, does this book make a connection between the 1927 ruling of carrie buck sterilization and making 47 -- staten island which was the biggest state-run mental institution in the united states which closed in 1987? i believe you said 1981 was the last sterilization. they closed in 1987. does your book make the connection? >> it doesn't. it doesn't get that far into the future of the willowbrook case is something i'm from new york and it's something, great, so you know what i'll wrestle with ithis because what was going on in the willowbrook when it was opened felt like a 1920s, the way in which the inmates were horribly mistreated and shut away and so forth. but the aclu to which kristof that but the critique now is no
other system was put in place. what we have now in new york is we don't have willowbrook but do we have a humane system for taking care folks? i think that's in national problem, but i don't. in part because i wasn't aware that sterilization occurred there, but the larger problem of how we deal with people who are developmentally disabled in every way is just huge. not enough attention is given to it as a policy matter. not enough attention given to it as writers and readers. i think we should be learning and thinking more about it. >> i was wondering if anybody knows what happened to carrie's daughter and whether she ever found out about her mother? >> well, you know, sometimes when i talk to people about this story, what's the happy part of it? their are no heroes in just a happy part of the.
that's a good lead-in to my answer to your question which is busy in buck died at the age of six of something like measles. so she never learned any of us. but she did have a bit of a school record at the time. and right before the initial trial, these horrible eugenicists are putting together the case said an expert from eugenics record office to examine this been in debt. he was able to sway the shows mentally defective because compared to the other baby that she was next to, she seemed to smile as a react differently. so that was enough to say that, and then that turns into three generations of imbeciles. she was record as being imbecilic by the supreme court. in fact, she was a very bright and perfectly normal child. the hundreds of villains in my
book, the foster mother who throws carrie al, get your committed because she's been raped on her nephew then takes her baby. when they go to talk to her after the baby has died, she does say there was nothing wrong with it. she was fine. so yeah, just sadness every direction you look. including that one. >> a question on the language. i know they have some poets in your, using the word -- [inaudible] sounds beautiful. we all have have editors. [inaudible] >> i think that's a great question. this is a much alive issue right now so we'll have to decide. people using the word editing but may wish to push back against a or maybe we shouldn't
and we should say that if you want your jeans edited so your child doesn't inherit some bad trait in your own genes, maybe it is like editing. on the other way language figures in this is the word imbeciles and three generations of imbeciles are enough. the are a million things wrong with the decision. the facts are all wrong. it's our. but one rather pedantic point about this the bonds because there were three very definite categories of mental defect back then, very precise the idiots were at the bottom. imbeciles when the middle and morons were at the top. these were registered. i found the template from your is department of labor i think that a nice little chart to these well-known categories. terry buck and her mother -- carrie buck and her mother were probably perfectly normal have been labeled morons when they got to the calling. it's not a great category but it is one notch up of imbeciles.
in addition to everything else oliver wendell holmes does, he demoted him in his decision. he calls of imbeciles which the record made clear, in carrie's case mid-level moron and her mother's case a low-level moron but they were not imbeciles. he was a great epigram missed and great wordsmith. one reason i use the word imbeciles for the title, there are several including the bigger question of who are the imbeciles, i would say not the people being sterilized but the people doing the sterilizing, but also its such a resident word and his choice of the. one thing my publisher did is, they seem a picture of the cover that come up with a book. they've got great designers to do this. what they did, i got it was so brilliant, they turned the word imbeciles into a dictionary definition at the put in the syllable is a.
i thought that was the right because it really sang let's interrogate the word imbeciles. imbeciles come why did he choose the word imbeciles come into the kind of nomenclature is everywhere. it's hard of oliver wendell holmes bag of tricks and used to malignant purposes. >> i think the word editing is appropriate, the way the codes and the genetics. he read the stream of, when you use the word editing, and -- >> you may have a very benign view of the word editing that any journalist who gets edited feels the editor is evil and is out to crush their soul. so you may think it's a nice thing. to me editing -- the outcome is a terrible. they take that people think he wrote and some horrible thing they wanted you to write. it's in the eye of the boulder i
think. >> i was just going to say that parts of his conversation reminded me about was done to the aborigines in australia, because they certainly wanted to get rid of them but they chose a more humane way of permitting intermarriage rather than in cars rating them. >> again, you know, depressing stories. here they are. yes, i think one of the depressing part of this is how we see the same tropes over and over again. we see the way we treated are african-americans, our lord cast whites very similar to our indigenous populations were treated other places. and then, of course, one of horrors, many floors of the story is seeing just how closely what we're doing can do nazi germany. the nazis very happily adopted what we're doing because we were doing what they were about to do. we have designated areas as being superior. madison grant road all book about it.
we with an sterilizing people, something they were happy to do. if the line between america and nazi germany was as thin as it was i think you are right. we will see the same thing with australia. we see it everywhere because there are only so many different ways that people are horrible to other people. it often falls into certain patterns. is there one more box last question. >> it would seem that oliver wendell holmes legacy has had a very good public relations team, preserving his relatively positive and very positive reputation, where in addition to your fabulous book and the magazine article in current harvard which is excellent, there've been the times of oliver wendell in 2001 and edwin black's book, 2003. so it's not as if you were the first to point out some of these
blemishes in his reputation. what do you attribute to as an attorney speaks it's a great question. there was always a very organized pr operation during his lifetime. there was an article called the house that build homes in washington, d.c. where a lot of journalists lived and he would have been there all the time. they would pop up his reputation. they would write glowing things about in the new public and other things. walter lippman, the leading journalistic commentator of the time was part of that group. he had a pr organization at the time. he gets amazing press. we hear about how as a harvard student h he volunteered, god bless and, to fight in the civil war and was wounded in battle three times. we hear the heroic stuff. we don't hear about some of his terrible decisions, his racial decisions are terrible. he wrote a decision rejecting an attempt by blacks in alabama to
vote that was so terrible that it not only stop these blacks from voting but it had been just an albatross around the necks of voting right cases for generations and generations saying that it's a political question. the court cannot get involved. there are so many terrible things he's done. he is i think well regarded by his alma mater. i know when i was over there there are many reporters -- portage and we look. someone asked me what my goals were with this book. this isn't the high school but it is the one thing i'd like to do would be really to pull holmes down off of his pedestal and enlighten people to what a terrible guy he was in many ways. but asking a question i think you are helping with the cause. i think that's it. [applause] >> as i mentioned the book is for sale at the registers and we will form the sunny side up his
>> and that's a look at some of the current nonfiction bestseller according to the "new york times." many of these authors have or will be appearing on booktv and you can watch them on our website at booktv.org. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> good evening, everyone. is his lovely always to get a full crowd like this. my name is douglas bradburn. i'm the founding director of the naal